Increased threat of extremist violence in Sweden

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-16 21:04:10|Editor: MJ
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STOCKHOLM, June 16 (Xinhua) -- There are thousands of potentially violent extremists in Sweden, representing a dramatic increase in recent years, according to the Swedish Security Service (Sapo), Swedish news agency TT reported Friday.

"We have never seen anything of this magnitude before," Anders Thornberg, head of Sapo, told TT in an interview.

Thornberg added that this "new normal" of growing extremist milieus is very serious.

Violence-embracing extremism comprises everything from people who sympathize with extremist messages to those who inspire and recruit or attract funding. The greatest concentration of these milieus is in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo and the city of Orebro, a city 200 kilometers west of Stockholm, according to Sapo.

This year Sapo received 6,000 intelligence reports a month related to terrorism and extremism. Five years ago the average was 2,000 a month.

Reports can come from a variety of sources including the public, the Internet or intelligence services from other countries.

"Generally, every second day we receive reports of a potential terror act, that someone has said they will commit a terrorist act, or information about something brewing," Thornberg said.

Sapo must also approach the threats in new ways, he said. Before terrorists planned their attacks over a long period of time, which increased chances that security services would catch them in time.

"Today an idea is hatched, they maybe buy two knives or rent a truck, and drive it into a crowd of people," he said. "We have to work faster. We need to be working around the clock and never take any chances. We have to patch any holes that exist," Thornberg said.

On April 7, a 39-year-old man stole a truck and drove it down one of Stockholm's busiest pedestrian streets, killing five people.

The terror threat remains at the same level since 2010, at three on a five-point scale, that is an increased threat of an attack.

"But we make an assessment each day if there is a reason to change the terror threat level," Thornberg said.